I rushed through the halls, late for class. Again. But I can’t help if my calculus class is on one side of the campus and then my Spanish class is on the other. Totally not my fault. When I boomed though the door, Ms. Diani, was calling my name for role. “Jason Kajwood?” “Here!” I said walking over to my desk. I set my notebook on the wooden surface and sat in the squeaky chair. She continued with role, “Nathan Rhodes?” “Present.” He called out. She continued again.
was one of my best friends. He’s sort of sluggish when it comes to school. But he has two excuses. A good one and a bad one. The good one: He’s deaf. The bad one: Chemical Soul. That’s the band we’re both in. He’s the songwriter and the bass guitarist. I’m the electric guitarist. Nathan used to be super serious about school, but then his dad told him there was no way he would be able to get into Gregory University, the college in our town. But that was okay for Nathan, well, because that was about the time we let him into the band.
When Ms. Diani was done calling role, Nathan looked over at me and handed me a piece folded lined paper. This how he always was, doesn’t say a word, just expects everyone to go along with whatever he does. He’s kind of self centered in that way, but its okay. I unfolded the paper and took a look at the song he had just written. Entitled “Candy”
As I stroll the streets of people
You look at me as I do
There are people all around
But all I see is you
Your smile and makes me feel unforgotten
It makes me feel like a star
And I can only imagine
What you’ve accomplished so far
But all I know is that all of your kisses
Are so sweet
And you can only treat me
Like candy (oh, ooh, oh)
If it only took me this long to fall in love
Then I know it will be forever
If push comes to shove
You’ll always be angled
But I’ll always be here
Our hands entangled
I don’t know our future
But I know your kisses will always be sweet
Sweet like candy
Like candy (Oh, ooh, oh)
Near the bottom of the page is where he had a small box that said ‘Is it good?’ I checked the box and folded the paper back up. Nathan was looking down at his hands, playing with his iPod. He put the earphones in before he could see I was trying to hand it back. He can’t hear the music, but at least to everyone else, it looks like he can. I poked him with my pencil and he turned to face me, his red hair flipping and his green eyes squinting. I suddenly realized why Chemical Soul’s fans called him Christmas. I handed him the folded piece of paper. He snatched it and smiled awkwardly. I faced the blackboard as Ms. Diani wrote some Spanish phrases on the board.
I started copying and translating the sentences in my notebook. Then the bell rang. I stood up grabbed my notebook and walked into the hallway. Finally, it was time for lunch. Nathan and I walked to the cafeteria. Kimmie caught up with us as we were walking through the doors. Kimmie Fares, our lead singer in Chemical Soul. I’ve only known her since ninth grade, but that’s apparently a long time for her because in her mind we’ve been “BFF’s since, like, forever.” We’re only seniors, it wasn’t that long ago. “Hi, you guys!” She exclaimed. She gave Nathan a big hug. She’s very excitable and happy all the time. It’s annoying sometimes, but she can be good help when the band is on the verge of breaking up. Her parents really don’t want Kimmie to be in Chemical Soul, just because it’s a rock band and rock n’ roll is “White Folk” music. I mean, what the hell? Who put music under racial genres? But she’s still with us, that’s all that counts.
Kimmie unleashed Nathan from her bear hug and turned around to hug me. I put my hands up before she could. “You’re such a downer, Jason.” She sighed and walked in the cafeteria. Nathan and I trailed behind her as she stepped into the lunch line. We grabbed some trays and pondered over the food choices. Bean and cheese burrito with a side of strawberry yogurt or Bean and rice burrito with a side of cherry yogurt. We all grabbed a bean and cheese burrito. Then we all went to our usual table, in the way back of the cafeteria where the lights flicker. I sat down across from Nathan and Kimmie sat next to me. “Guess what!” She said a little too loud. “What?” I asked since Nathan, obviously, didn’t hear. “I aced my calculus final! Mr. Bernard was so shocked. I was the only one in my class who aced it.” “Good for you.” A voice said from behind. Kimmie and I both turned around. It was Sirus, our piano player. He didn’t have a lunch, just a water bottle. “Hi, Sirus!” Kimmie said, “Why don’t you have a lunch?” “Didn’t have enough dough.” Sirus replied. “Whoa, your slang is off about a hundred years.” I said smiling, “Want my lunch? I was only going to eat the yogurt anyway.” “Seriously?” “Yeah, go ahead.” Sirus snatched up my tray like it was gold at the end of a rainbow. He stuffed his face.
Sirus’s family was practically in poverty. His father’s a gravedigger at the cemetery. But I Googled that a gravedigger only gets ten dollars every two weeks. I’m the only one who knows that Sirus’s family is poor. I feel bad for him. Sometimes, he comes over with his little brother and I let them clean out the fridge and borrow some of my old clothes. But nobody knew Sirus as the poor kid who barely gets enough to eat every day. They knew Sirus Roliani, the coolest guy in the entire school and the boyfriend of the girls’ soccer team captain.
“Where’s Nathan?” Kimmie asked jumping in her seat. “I don’t actually know.” I said. He just disappeared all of a sudden. Then we saw him, a bunch of guys were trying to take his iPod. Nobody but the band and his family know that he’s deaf. That’s why he never takes his headphones off. But thank God, Emmet stopped them before it could go any further.
Emmet Ample, our drummer. My best friend, all of these guys are my best friends. But he’s my favorite best friend. I know it’s bad to choose favorites with your friends but he’s been my best friend since sixth grade. We get along perfectly. Well, we used to. It was about a week ago when he started acting weird. He didn’t show up to our band rehearsal on Sunday morning and when I called to ask why he said he was helping his dad with crops. His dad is farmer. But his answer was bullshit because he never ever helps his dad with crops. He hasn’t really been committing to band for some reason, but I think his parents have something to do with it. They both walk over. “Hey, you guys.” Emmet said. Everyone gives him the evil eye, even Kimmie. We’re all pretty pissed that he skipped out on rehearsal when we have a gig Friday night. Which is tomorrow. “I’m sorry for skipping. To make it up to you,” He takes a wad of cash out his pocket, “Dinner at Dreffy’s on me!” Dreffy’s was a café right behind the elementary school. They always have free muffins and Cola. The girl who owns the café, Dreffy, always gives us the VIP room since we come so often. “Apology accepted!” Kimmie screamed. We all nodded in agreement. He smiled and put his tray down on table. Nathan sat next to him. “You okay, dude?” Emmet asked him. Of course, Nathan didn’t hear. Emmet rolled his eyes and ate his lunch.
After dinner, I went home. I had to walk because our car broke down. When I finally got home it was 9:30pm and I still had to my homework. I opened the door and walked in. “Mom, I’m home!” I called out. Mom came through the hallway, “Hi, Jaseypoo.” “Can you stop calling me that?” “No. Your still my little baby boy.” She kissed my cheek, “How was school?” “It was alright.” “What did you learn?” She took my backpack. “Stuff.” She sighed, “Um, Jaseypoo, I’m going to be gone for a couple days.” She said while walking into her room. I followed in, “Why?” “Some girls and I are going to Vegas to have a little fun. We want to go drinking.” “Mom, Vegas is, like, a million miles away.” “It’s only four thousand miles away.” “What car are you going to take?” “One of my friend’s car.” “What friend?” I asked suspiciously. She stood right in front of me and looked up at me, “You’re growing up, Jaseypoo; it’s a couple of days. I’ll be leaving tomorrow night around ten and I’ll be back by Tuesday morning.” “Okay, that’s fine.”
I walked out of her room and into mine, she followed me this time. “You only have three rules.” She said leaning against the door frame. I sat on my bed and eyed her. “Rule number one: No alcohol.” I nodded and took off my shoes. “Rule number two: Be in by your normal curfew eleven and no later.” I took off my socks. “And rule number three: No girls over.” “What about Kimmie?” “Does Kimmie have breasts?” I looked side to side, “Yeah…” “Then Kimmie’s not aloud over.” She walked back to our room. I heard her lamp click off.
My mom is pretty weird. She thinks that Kimmie has a crush on me. She also believes that I’m responsible enough to follow rule two. But I barely do that now. She also thinks I’ll follow rule one. I stopped following that rule when I turned fifteen and Emmet took me to an after-party. But honestly, my mom is a pretty amazing woman. She raised me on her own since I was four years old. That was when my dad died. She held down a job and paid off a house all by herself. I mean, not a lot of people can say they did that. We were close when I was little, but I don’t know. Once I started high school she became sort of distant. Sometimes she would send me off to Emmet’s house while she had alone time. I’m thinking it some sort of independence thing she wants me to grow.
After high school, Mom expects me to go to Gregory University. The college in our super small town. It’s our main attraction. But I guess that’s sort of the problem. I could go anywhere with my grades. Harvard, Stanford, Yale, Princeton, or I could go cross-country with Chemical Soul. That exactly what I want to do, go cross-country. But Mom doesn’t even know about Chemical Soul. So how hell do I explain to her that I’m ditching college? I don’t want to disappoint her, you know? She spent seventeen years raising me; I don’t want to be a mistake.
I took off my clothes and grabbed a towel off the ground of my bedroom floor. I walked toward the bathroom. Mom came out of her room, “But I have to pee!” She said. We share one bathroom. I whined, “Go ahead. I can wait.” “Thanks, Jaseypoo.” She ran into the bathroom and closed the door behind her. She took five minutes and I knew that she had lots more to do than piss. When she finally came out she was holding air freshener in one hand, “Sorry. We’re all out.” “Gross. I have to smell your poop fumes.” She awkwardly laughed and skipped toward her room. I walked in the bathroom. It smelled so bad in there. At least the soap will wash out smell. I stepped into the shower and turned on the water. I dipped my head in the pouring drops. The water turned my light brown hair to dark brown. I picked up my towel and put some soap and washed. I love showers. They are the most relaxing thing on Earth. When I got out the mirror was steamy. I picked up my towel and wrapped it around me. The bad smell washed out and a soapy smell filled the bathroom. I drew a smiley face in the steam on the mirror. I walked out of the bathroom and into my bedroom.
I dried off and put on a t-shirt, some boxers, and socks. I checked my phone. One missed call from Kimmie. She’s still bothering me? I lounged on my bed as I dialed her number on my cell phone. She answered right away, “Hi, Jason!” “Hey, why did you call earlier?” “You mean Emmet hasn’t told you yet?” She sounded like she was about cry. “What’s wrong?” “He can’t go cross-country with us.” “What?!” “He said something about his dad and college. The fact is he can’t go and he wants to quit. He’s our drummer! Do you know how hard it is to get a new drummer for a band?” “What do we do now?” “You’re his best friend. Maybe you can talk some sense into him.” “We’re all his best friends. Why don’t you talk some sense into him?” “Because he’s your favorite best friend and you’re his.” “That’s not tr-“ I got cut off by Kimmie’s saddening voice. “We all knew that was your favorite friend. It’s okay. We have favorites too.” I laughed, “Who’s your favorite?” “You.” “Really?” “Yeah, but Sirus comes in a close second.” We were both silent for awhile. “So… You talk to him, okay?” I sighed, “Fine.” Then she hung up without saying goodbye. I threw my phone on the other side of the bed and got under the blankets. I patted the pillow before resting my head. I closed my eyes and fell into a deep sleep.
When I woke up the next morning, I found a note on my nightstand next to my digital clock. It said “I had to leave early. Your lunch money and allowance are on the kitchen table. Love you, Jaseypoo. –Mom” “Are you fricken serious?” I said out loud. I climbed out of bed and walked into the kitchen. I checked the clock on the wall. It read seven o’ clock. Great, I got an hour. I opened up the fridge and took out some milk and poured myself a glass. I grabbed an apple from the fruit bowl in the center of the kitchen table. I took a bite and the sweet juice fell into my mouth. I love apples so much. I walked back to my room when I had finished my apple and glass of milk. I opened my closet and took out a white shirt that said plain and simple in grey letters. I took off my pajama shirt and put on that one. I grabbed some jeans off the floor and slipped them on.
I heard a knock on the door. It was Emmet. He’s been driving me to school since the car broke down. “I’m coming.” I shouted. Before leaving I grabbed the money Mom left me and stuffed it in my back pocket. I opened the front door and there was Emmet, already dressed in the band’s outfit for tonight’s gig. So he’s pulling the old gig and quit. “Good morning.” He said. ”Morning.” I replied. We both piled into his car. As he started it up I said, “Hey, can we talk for a second…” Here we go. “What’s up?” “I heard you were quitting the band.” “Uh, about that…” The next four words out of his mouth were the most surprising words I’ve ever heard in my entire life.